Abdul Hamid is wrong on all three claims -  that Malaysia Is an Islamic State because it is recognized by ulamas and its  hosting of the OIC Summit, as well as being a model Islamic State

Speech (2)
at a meeting of  Selangor DAP state and branch leaders to review the latest political developments in the country with the Week Four countdown for the passing of the Prime Minister’s  baton from Mahathir to Abdullah on November 1, 2003
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling JayaSunday): During the winding-up of the policy debate on the 2004 Budget in Parliament on Monday (29.9.03), the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Brig.Jen. Datuk Abdul Hamid bin Haji Zainal Abidin said: 

“Kenyataan Yang Amat Berhormat Perdana Menteri mengenai Malaysia negara Islam adalah suatu penjelasan dan bukan pengisytiharan. Hakikat Malaysia sebagai negara Islam tidak perlu dipertikaikan lagi. Ini berdasarkan pendapat-pendapat ulama yang muktabar di mana Malaysia telah memenuhi ciri-ciri sebuah negara Islam. Malah mereka juga mengakui bahawa Malaysia ialah sebuah negara Islam contoh.” 

There are three fallacies in this statement by Abdul Hamid.   

Firstly, whether Malaysia becomes an Islamic state must be decided by Malaysian citizens, regardless of race or religion, and not by ulamas.  In the democracy practised by Malaysia for the past 46 years, in accordance with the “social contract” reached by the major communities in attaining national independence and the fundamental nation-building principles enshrined in the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the 1963 Malaysia Agreement and the 1970 Rukunegara, it is NOT for the ulamas but for the multi-racial and multi-religious citizens  of Malaysia to decide whether Malaysia is to abandon its 46-year constitutional basis  as a secular Malaysia with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State, to become a  full-fledged Islamic State – whether ala-UMNO or ala-PAS.  As the Malaysian people had never decided whether by way of a national referendum or a Parliamentary vote to become an Islamic State, ulamas cannot on their own change the character of the Malaysian nation. 

Secondly, Malaysia’s hosting of the OIC Summit later this month cannot transform Malaysia from a secular state with Islam as the official religion into an Islamic State as OIC is not an organization of Islamic States. 

In fact, the number of Islamic States in the OIC are a tiny minority as the  overwhelming majority of the 57 member nations in OIC are secular and  not Islamic States.  The majority of the 1.2 billion Muslims in the world live in secular states and not in Islamic states. 

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had publicly acknowledged this in his keynote address at a symposium on “The Islamic World and Global Co-operation: Preparing for the 21st Century” organized by the Institute of Islamic Understanding of Malaysia-Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies in Petaling Jaya on April 25, 1997, where he said:

“Let me start by looking at the Islamic World itself.  There are at the moment not less than 56 countries which are members of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC). Not all these countries have Muslim majorities and fewer still officially accept Islam as the state religion.” 

In the  OIC, there   many member countries which have  populations with  overwhelming Muslim majorities  but which are secular and not Islamic states like Indonesia with 88% Muslim population of  203 million Muslims and  Turkey with 99.8% Muslim population with 67 million people.

OIC has also members which can never be Islamic states because of their Muslim-minority  populations, and  countries with Muslims   20 per cent or  less  in their populations include  Cameroon,  Mozambique and Suriname (20%),  Uganda (16%), Guyana (15%),  Togo (12%) and  Gabon (1%)

If countries with Muslim population ranging from 1% to 20% are also members of the OIC, how could any country claim that hosting an OIC summit or membership of OIC  makes  it   an Islamic State?  In fact, former communist and atheist Russia has expressed interest in joining the OIC and Malaysia has expressed its support!

Thirdly, as OIC is not an organization of Islamic States, and Malaysia is not an Islamic State, the third fallacy that Malaysia is a model Islamic State becomes self-evident.

Why should Malaysia satisfy being a model of Islamic States, which would be comparing Malaysia with only a handful of countries like Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Iran  – when we should hold ourselves as a model of the Muslim and the non-Muslim developing worlds in view of Malaysia’s multi-religious population.

Abdul Hamid is therefore wrong on all three claims -  that Malaysia Is an Islamic State because it is recognized by ulamas and its  hosting of the OIC Summit, as well as being a model Islamic State.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman